Database Entry: Xinjiang Rapidly Building Crematoria to Extinguish Uyghur Funeral Traditions
Forced Assimilation Internment conditions

Xinjiang Rapidly Building Crematoria to Extinguish Uyghur Funeral Traditions

June 26, 2018
Excerpt from this Article Read the Full Article

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are rapidly constructing crematoria staffed by dozens of security personnel, according to local officials, amid concerns over the eradication of ethnic Uyghur funeral traditions.

Between March 2017 and February 2018, the XUAR government listed 5-10 million yuan (U.S. $760,000 to $1.52 million) tenders for contractors to build nine “burial management centers” that include crematoria in mostly Uyghur-populated areas throughout the region, according to a report listed on the official website of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC).

While investigating an 8 million yuan (U.S. $1.22 million) tender from July last year for a center in Aksu (Akesu) prefecture’s Shayar (Shaya) county, RFA’s Uyghur Service discovered a contact number for an existing crematorium in nearby Kuchar (Kuche) county and was told by an ethnic Han Chinese staff member there that the Shayar burial center and crematorium had yet to be completed.

The staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the Aksu government was “investing in these projects” and had earmarked funding to expand the size of the Kuchar crematorium as well.

“A very few” ethnic minority corpses are sent to the Kuchar crematorium, he said, which are “normally brought to us with special documentation provided by the police.”

Among the ethnic minority corpses brought to his crematorium are those who have died in “political re-education camps,” he said, where authorities in the XUAR have detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” views since April 2017.

When asked if authorities are building crematoria throughout the region, the staff member said the facilities “are being built everywhere,” and typically require a staff of 15 people, who cremate two to five corpses each week in a process that takes around 90 minutes for each body.

“It looks like the trend for the future will be cremation rather than burial,” he said, noting that on television “the government is calling on people, regardless of ethnic background or religion, to choose cremation over burial, as the land in Xinjiang is limited in size, and also to protect the environment and create more green land.”

“All I know is that they are expanding crematoria at the moment, but the policy regarding their use has not been implemented yet,” he added.